Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Matt 24 watch, 125c: The Camping case, 3 -- setting a new date while scrubbing the FR site

(NB: this post follows up from earlier ones (a) mainly on theology issues and (b) mainly on governance breakdown and media tactics,  Saturday and Sunday morning.)

In a saddening further development, it seems that Mr Camping has now scrubbed the index2 page of his site that formerly had the predictions and brochures on May 21, and has set a new date. 

According to a May 23rd WND article:

All warnings of the end of the world have apparently been "raptured" off the homepage of a doomsday preacher who wrongly predicted the return of Jesus over the weekend, and made a new prediction tonight that the end would now come on Oct. 21 of this year.

For many months, Oakland, Calif.-based Family Radio and its main voice Harold Camping had been thundering warnings that Judgment Day was to take place May 21, 2011, and that it would be a certainty with "no Plan B.". . . . 

The 89-year-old gravel-voiced Camping took to the airwaves of Family Radio tonight to discuss the non-event, and said: "On May 21, this last weekend, this is where the spiritual aspect of it really comes through. God again brought judgment on the world. We didn't see any difference but God brought Judgment Day to bear upon the whole world. The whole world is under Judgment Day and it will continue right up until Oct. 21, 2011 and by that time the whole world will be destroyed."

"Are you ready to shoot yourself or go on a booze trip or whatever?"

Camping said. "I can tell you very candidly that when May 21 came and went, it was a very difficult time for me, a very difficult time. I was wondering, 'What is going on?'" he said.

"The Bible is a very spiritual book. There are a lot of things that are very factual, very factual, of course, but there are a lot of things that are very spiritual. How to know whether to look at it with a spiritual understanding or a factual understanding is hard to know," Camping said. "The fact is when we look at it more spiritually then we find that He did come."

Camping then predicted the world would be brought to an end on Oct. 21, 2011.

On May 21, "God brought Judgment Day to the whole world. The whole world is on Judgment Day. It will continue to Oct. 21, 2011 and at that time the whole world will be destroyed."

When pressed for an apology about being wrong on a May 21 Rapture, Camping responded: "If people want me to apologize then I can apologize, yes. I did not have all of that worked out as I wished I had it. But it doesn't bother me at all because I'm not a genius. When I make an error, I say, 'Yes, I was wrong.'"

He also said Family Radio has no intention of returning any money donated by people in recent months.

"No, that money is still going out. We're still in business. We still have another five months," he said.

"Why would we return it? It's been given to get the Gospel out. We're spending it as wisely as possible."
In short, Mr Camping is still unable or unwilling to accept that there is a fundamental fallacy in his methods of interpreting the Bible based on hop-scotching from one text isolated from context to a new text also isolated from context, then using "hidden" meanings read into the text to draw out a conclusion; instead of understanding each text in light of its context and natural literary sense given its genre. As this blog noted on Sunday morning in part (b):
. . . one should not go looking for esoteric “hidden” meanings in the text where the text has a plain and natural sense that makes good sense.

And yet, that is exactly what [Mr Camping] did, by coming up with some idiosyncratic date for Noah’s flood, then taking a text on how the eternal God is patient beyond human understanding (a day is like a 1,000 years in his sight . . . ) and taking a reference to seven days to go to the flood, plugging in the idea that 1 day –> 1,000 years, then voila, we arrive at May 21, 2011 . . .
Unsafe approaches to interpretation are dangerous, and the Apostle Peter -- speaking particularly about Paul's letters, but then broadening to the scriptures as a whole -- warns:
2 Pet 3:16b . . . There are some things in those [epistles of Paul] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist and misconstrue to their own [g]utter destruction, just as [they distort and misinterpret] the rest of the Scriptures.
In addition to the eschatological errors, Mr Camping sadly falls into the classic sectarian trap of claiming that his little group has cornered the market on Biblical truth. 

This can be seen from a clip taken out of his (now vanished) page on "no man knows," where -- having tried to take other texts out of context to blunt the force of the direct scriptural warning against date-setting and to make plausible a claim that "the true believers . . . know the time (the hour) and much about Judgment Day (the day),"  his site goes on to say:
In 1 Thessalonians 5:3 Christ tells us, “When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” Because destruction comes upon them, we can know for certain that these people are not saved. Being unsaved, they are in spiritual darkness. They are in the night. Judgment Day is coming for them as a “thief in the night.” Yet they believe they are at peace with God and safely under His care. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

The language of this verse describes perfectly all of those in the world who on May 21, 2011 are still following any church. Because churches teach many things that are not true to the Bible, including a plan of salvation that is contrary to the Bible, and the Holy Spirit has abandoned all churches, those still following any church on May 21, 2011 are not saved . . .

We therefore must warn the world against this false teaching, and call on this man to repent of his errors, and to apologise for causing discredit to the gospel, scriptures and the church in the minds of many, making the work of bearing witness to the gospel just that much harder in our day.

Richard Myers and his abibleanswer.org group have a sounder word of counsel:
"Jesus is coming soon, but He is not coming on May 21. There are prophecies that have not been fulfilled. They are in the process of fulfillment, but will not be done by May 21. And, no man knoweth the day nor the hour when Jesus will return. The Bible is very clear in this matter and Harold Camping is acting contrary to Bible truth. This is not the first time he has made a false prophecy concerning the time of Jesus' return. In 1994 he did the same and was proved to be a false prophet. ... If Harold Camping does not sell Family Radio, why should you sell your home? If Harold Camping wants to retain his possessions, then you ought to do the same." 
 Indeed, as pointed out Saturday morning in the first post in this sub-series, all attempts at date-setting run headlong into Jesus' explicit warnings:
Mt 24:3While He was seated on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately and said, Tell us, when will this take place, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end (the completion, the consummation) of the age?     4Jesus answered them, Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error].     5For many will come in (on the strength of) My name [[b]appropriating the name which belongs to Me], saying, I am the Christ (the Messiah), and they will lead many astray.     6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.     7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place;     8All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the [c]birth pangs [of the [d]intolerable anguish].     9Then they will hand you over to suffer affliction and tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.     10And then many will be offended and repelled and will [e]begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred.     11And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error.     12And the love of [f]the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity,     13But he who endures to the end will be saved.     14And this good news of the kingdom (the Gospel) will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end . . . .

36But of that [exact] day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father . . . .

43But understand this: had the householder known in what [part of the night, whether in a [v]night or a morning] watch the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have allowed his house to be [w]undermined and broken into.

    44You also must be ready therefore, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him. [AMP]
 Ac 1:6So when they were assembled, they asked Him, Lord, is this the time when You will reestablish the kingdom and restore it to Israel?     7He said to them, It is not for you to become acquainted with and know [b]what time brings [the things and events of time and their definite periods] or fixed [c]years and seasons (their critical niche in time), which the Father has appointed (fixed and reserved) by His own choice and authority and personal power.     8But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.
It could not be plainer than that. 

Instead of speculating on the dates and details of the end of days, the apostle Paul showed us what we should emphasise instead, in his speech to the Athenian elites in 50 AD:

Ac 17:26And He made from one [common origin, one source, one blood] all nations of men to settle on the face of the earth, having definitely determined [their] allotted periods of time and the fixed boundaries of their habitation (their settlements, lands, and abodes),
27So that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after Him and find Him, although He is not far from each one of us.

28For in Him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your [own] poets have said, For we are also His offspring.

29Since then we are God’s offspring, we ought not to suppose that Deity (the Godhead) is like gold or silver or stone, [of the nature of] a representation by human art and imagination, or anything constructed or invented.

30Such [former] ages of ignorance God, it is true, ignored and allowed to pass unnoticed; but now He charges all people everywhere to repent ([d]to change their minds for the better and heartily to amend their ways, with abhorrence of their past sins),

31Because He has fixed a day when He will judge the world righteously (justly) by a Man Whom He has destined and appointed for that task, and He has made this credible and given conviction and assurance and evidence to everyone by raising Him from the dead.(B) [AMP]
So, let us put first things first, and second things second. 

And, let us have done with unsound Bible study methods (a suggested one-pager on sound approaches is here) and a foolish fascination with forbidden date setting and speculations. END

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